SAO PAULO: Thousands of supporters of Ex-President Jair Bolsonaro called on Brazil’s military on Wednesday to intervene to keep the right-wing president in power after he lost re-election to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the weekend.
After days of silence, Bolsonaro gave a brief speech on Tuesday in which he neither accepted defeat nor congratulated Lula on his victory, although his chief of staff took the stage afterward to say the president had “authorized” the transition to a new government.
Since then, his supporters have rallied outside military installations in major Brazilian cities to call for action.
“Federal intervention now!” chanted some of the thousands who gathered outside the military headquarters in the Latin American country’s largest city, Sao Paulo, on Wednesday.
“We want federal intervention because we demand our freedom. We don’t accept being ruled by a thief,” said Angela Cosac, 70, next to a sign reading “SOS Armed Forces”.
Thousands of people gathered in the capital of Brasilia, chanting “civil resistance”. In rainy downtown Rio de Janeiro, protesters were filmed by Brazilian media chanting: “Lula, thief, you belong in jail”.
Protesters maintained roadblocks across the country for a third straight day, although their numbers dropped from 271 on Tuesday to 167 on Wednesday.
In Sao Paulo, military police used tear gas to break up a blockade on a major highway linking the state to the country’s midwest region after the Supreme Court ordered the use of “all necessary measures” to open the roads.
Trucks honked their horns as protesters in yellow soccer jerseys waved flags in front of passing vehicles, according to scenes broadcast on local television.
The blockades caused disruption across the country. Sao Paulo’s main airport, Guarulhos, canceled 48 flights due to the protests.
Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that the roadblocks were “the fruit of indignation and a sense of injustice over the way the electoral process was conducted”.
“Peaceful protests will always be welcomed.”
This was interpreted by some supporters as a call to keep the demonstrations going.
Lula’s Workers’ Party announced on Tuesday that its vice-president-elect, Geraldo Alckmin, will lead the transition process, which will begin on Thursday.